Canadian whiz kids pulled the wool, or the feathers, over the eyes of millions of Internet users with a fake video showing a golden eagle trying to snatch a child in a Montreal park.
For a while, "Golden Eagle Snatches Kid" spiked on YouTube's viral-video meter, chalking up 5 million views in just one day. One reason why the video leaped up the charts was because it was widely distributed via sites such as The Guardian and Gawker with a minimum of fact-checking.
It didn't take long, however, for Montreal police to note that there were no reports of avian kid-snatching attempts. Besides, birders said, golden eagles don't frequent that part of the world — and the bird in the video didn't look like a real golden eagle anyway.
"With all the ignorance about nature that's out there already," the last thing we need is this kind of stupid garbage," the Black Swamp Bird Observatory in Ohio said in a Facebook posting.
Others took note of the jerky frame rate and soft focus, which are typical red flags for video fakery. Some noted telltale anomalies in how the video showed the bird's shadow and one of its wings.
Within hours, the jig was up. Montreal's Centre NAD, a school that specializes in 3-D animation design, acknowledged that the video was made up in a production simulation workshop class by three of its students.
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